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Shauna Olney - Women leading the Worldwide Conversation

A lifelong international mission to promote women’s equality.

Shauna Olney speaking at the 1858 Charter Lecture
Shauna Olney - Chief: Gender, Equality and Diversity Branch (GED) of the International Labour Organization (ILO), a specialised agency of the United Nations.

Series of profiles on women leading the worldwide conversation

‘Worldwide Conversations’ on women’s higher education and equality in the workplace are now taking place across the world, including Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, Ghana, Russia, India and Hong Kong.

The first of these conversations took place in London on Wednesday 19 September at the home of the University of London, Senate House.

The keynote lecture, which featured as The 1858 Charter Lecture, 2018 was delivered by Shauna Olney, Chief; Gender, Equality and Diversity Branch, International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations.

Following the lecture, Shauna Olney also took part in a panel conversation chaired by The Hon. Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb, the first Asian woman to be appointed to the UK High Court.

Over the following weeks we will profile the women who took part in this unique worldwide event at Senate House, which also marked the University’s Leading Women campaign celebrating the opening up of Special Examinations for women in 1868.

Shuana Olney - 30 year track record

Shauna Olney has been at the forefront of the international effort to promote women’s equality and rights in the world of work for almost 30 years. Her experience as an author, report leader and public spokesperson for the International Labour Organization (ILO), a specialised agency of the United Nations, affords her a unique perspective on the issues facing women in the world of work and the trends these issues follow.

Ms Olney studied law at the University of British Columbia and as a postgraduate at the University of Oxford, with a focus on industrial relations and human rights. She has been with the ILO since 1991, working in the areas of equality and non-discrimination, industrial relations, international labour standards, labour law and freedom of association. Shauna Olney previously worked as a barrister and solicitor in Canada, where she specialised in industrial relations, labour law and human rights. She also worked at the Supreme Court of Canada.

Ms Olney has authored and co-authored a number of publications on gender, equality and non-discrimination, including “Migrant Workers and the Right to Non-discrimination and Equality” in Migrants at Work (OUP); Equal Pay: An introductory guide (ILO); ‘The ILO, gender equality, and trade unions’ in Making globalization work for women (SUNY Series, Praxis); and Gender equality: A guide to collective bargaining (ILO).

Speaking for the ILO in 2015, Shauna noted the lack progress made towards gender equality that had been made over the past two decades. Looking to the future, she says: ‘The next 20 years cannot be more of the same. And it won’t be. Momentum is building, economically, politically and socially to break down the barriers to gender equality.’

In 2017, Towards a better future for women and work: Voices of women and men, conducted under Ms Olney’s supervision, found that a total of 70% of women and a similar 66% of men would prefer that women work at paid jobs. Each of these figures is more than double the percentages of those who would prefer women to stay at home.

Shauna Olney: If there is going to be a future of decent work for women, we need to listen to all voices, and go beyond “business as usual”. This “worldwide conversation” does just that and is an important contribution to this process.

To find out more about the exceptional women leaders who participated in the launch of the University of London’s ‘worldwide conversation’, please see links to the profiles already published:

 Read more about the University of London’s ‘worldwide conversation’ London launch event and watch the video.